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Elephants have names for each other

19th June, 2024 Environment

Elephants have names for each other

Source: Indian Express

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  • Scientists have discovered that elephants use specific name-like calls to address each other, indicating sophisticated communication and cognitive abilities.
  • The study, published in Nature, used AI tools to analyse elephant rumbles, revealing unique identifiers for individual elephants.


Key Points

  • Study Findings:
    • Elephants use specific name-like calls to address each other, indicating complex communication.
  • Publication Details:
    • The study, titled ‘African elephants address one another with individually specific name-like calls,’ was published in Nature on June 10.
  • Research Team:
    • Conducted by researchers from Colorado State University, Save The Elephants, ElephantVoices and Amboseli Elephant Research Project.
  • Methodology:
    • The study analysed rumbles recorded between 1986 and 2022 using AI tools to identify individual-specific calls.
  • AI Analysis:
    • The AI model successfully identified the intended elephant 27.5% of the time, demonstrating that rumbles contain specific information.
  • Behavioural Evidence:
    • Elephants reacted more strongly to calls directed at them, confirming the presence of name-like identifiers.
  • Comparison with Other Animals:
    • Unlike parrots and dolphins, elephants do not imitate the calls of the receiver, similar to human name usage.
  • Significance:
    • The findings highlight elephants' high intellectual capabilities and similarities to human communication, enhancing our appreciation and conservation efforts.

About Amboseli National Park

Location and Ecosystem:

  • Situated in Kenya, Amboseli National Park is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve renowned for its scenic beauty and diverse wildlife.
  • It encompasses savannah grasslands, woodlands, swamps, and wetlands, supporting a rich ecosystem.

African Elephants:

  • Amboseli is famous for its large elephant herds. These elephants are particularly well-studied due to the open environment, allowing for easier observation of their social behaviour and ecology.

Mount Kilimanjaro:

  • The backdrop of Amboseli National Park is the majestic snow-capped peak of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest mountain. This breathtaking view adds to the park's scenic splendour.

Maasai Community:

  • The Maasai people, a semi-nomadic pastoral community, co-exist with the park's wildlife.
  • Their traditional knowledge and cultural practices regarding conservation are valuable assets for park management.

Threats and Conservation Efforts:

  • Amboseli faces challenges like habitat loss due to human encroachment, human-wildlife conflict, and the impacts of climate change.
  • Conservation efforts focus on sustainable land management practices, community engagement, and wildlife research initiatives.


Indian Express


Q. Discuss the significance of the study on elephants' name-like calls in understanding animal communication and cognitive abilities. How can this knowledge contribute to wildlife conservation efforts?